Calls on Federal Government to Meet Lecturers’ Demands Immediately
- Lecturers! Don't Sit At Home, For Mass Protest and Demonstrations
- Students! Support the Strike, Don't Break It!
- For a United Struggle of Education Workers and Students to Save Education From Collapse
Arising from its NEC meeting at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) over the weekend, the Academic Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU) declared an indefinite strike action. As always, the issue that has forced the union to declare a strike is the Federal Government's persistent refusal to fully implement the FGN/ASUU agreement signed since 2009.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully backs the decision of ASUU to embark on this strike. Recall that the ERC played a role in 2009 through protest actions and demonstrations to get this agreement signed. We are therefore duty bound to stand with ASUU and University lecturers in their current struggle to get the agreement fully implemented. We call on the government to meet ASUU's demands immediately.
As the experience of the last three and half years has shown, it would take a far more monumental struggle than the one needed to get the agreement signed to force the corrupt capitalist government to actually implement it. This is why as ASUU embarks on another strike, we have to reiterate that this strike should not be taken as just a sit-at-home action. Instead it has to be taken as a mass struggle to compel the government to commit Nigeria's resources to the funding of education, provision of adequate teaching facilities and to meet the needs of staffs in terms of pay and working conditions.
Ultimately not one of the demands of ASUU can be satisfactorily implemented without a turnaround in government's lackadaisical, negligent and anti-poor attitude to education. Needless to say, only a government that is truly committed to using Nigeria's resources to fund education can fully and satisfactorily guarantee the pay and working conditions of staff. This is why in the current strike and subsequent ones, the demands for improvement in education funding, democratic management of schools and provision of free education at all levels have to be fully placed on the front burner, not as secondary issues but as demands ASUU would be willing to continue to fight for even if the agreement presently in contention is implemented.
To therefore make this strike as such a mass struggle as we have outlined above, ASUU has to begin mobilisation of its members as well as students, youth and the public for public mass actions like rallies, leafleting and demonstrations.
Evidently, no reasonable person can blame University lecturers for again embarking on strike. Since 2009, the Union has embarked on series of actions including dialogues and occasional strikes none of which have succeeded in convincing the government to meet its demands.
Above all, the fact that ASUU strike is coming on the heels of several other industrial actions already racking the education sector such as the strike action of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and particularly the nationwide strike of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) which has lasted for more than 50 days now shows that there is nowhere else to lay the blame for the perennial strike disrupting academic activities in the education sector except at the doorsteps of the government.
However as several unions in the education sector are putting forward the demands of their members through strikes, it is very unfortunate that nothing is being heard from the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). This gives the wrong impression that perhaps students have no grievances or demands to put on the table. Meanwhile students bear the brunt of government anti-poor policies of education underfunding and commercialisation. Nearly 10 students have been killed by the police this year alone during protests on campuses.
The ERC believes students need to organise themselves and put forward their grievances and demands on fee hike, underfunding, inadequate facilities, poor municipal services and victimisation etc. We call on NANS to immediately declare and begin to mobilise for a one-day nationwide lecture boycott and mass protest as a way to put forward students demands and also to give active solidarity support to the strike actions of ASUU, ASUP and SSANIP.
ASUU, ASUP and SSANIP are fighting for generally the same thing - the welfare of their members and the adequate funding of education. The fact that the three unions are on strike at the same time and arguing the same issues shows there is basis for unity. The ERC believes their strikes will be more powerful and highly effective if linked together as a jointly coordinated strike movement to fight for improvement in public education. To do this, the ERC calls on ASUU, ASUP, SSANIP and also NANS to link up their struggles together by mobilising for joint rallies, protest and mass demonstrations to secure a quick victory
Hassan Taiwo Soweto